We started off our exciting adventure abroad in the beautiful city of London! I have never been to London, so I was really excited to see everything that it had to offer. On our first day, we spent time walking around the neighborhood surrounding our beautiful hotel, the Copthorne Tara Hotel, going out to lunch at Elephant and Castle, having orientation and our first class, and finishing the day with a group dinner at Maggie Jones’s. During lunch at Elephant and Castle, I could already see the sharp contrasts between restaurants in the US compared to the US. Whereas waiters int he US pride themselves in providing the best possible service to their customers in order to increase their tips, UK serves do not receive tips and act in a more cashier-type role. It was interesting to see this contrast during our first meal in London, as we sat ourselves, and went up to the bar to order our food and eventually pay. Overall I had a lovely salad with mixed greens, avocado, cheese, and other veggies, and I got to see two of my friends have their first legal drink!
The dinner at Maggie Jones’s was my favorite of the entire London trip. It was such an incredible and unique experience having a 3-course meal along side 30 other guests. I was really surprised to see how many waiters there were and how amazing the service was. Usually in the US, menus choices are not given beforehand and dinners take a lot longer with such large amount of people. At Maggie Jones’s, they brought each course at the same time and utilized cards on the table to determine our menu selections and write any food restrictions/preferences we had.
With all of the waiters running around I really thought that at least one person’s dish would get mixed up or something wouldn’t come out in time (like most cases in the US), but everything was perfectly timed and correct. This has been my favorite meal so far as I enjoyed an arugula salad, veggie pot pie, and bread & butter pudding!
On day 2 of our time in London, we had an incredible day touring the Tower of London, exploring Borough Market, and hopping on the London Eye. The tower of London was so amazing to see and having a Blue Badge Tour Guide made it even more special. Not only was Sarah Woods highly informative and passionate about the history of the Tower of London, she also was able to put things into perspective about the tour guide industry in London. As a Blue Badge Tour Guide, she went through rigorous coursework to become registered to guide tours. I had never hear of this type of qualification for Tour Guides before and definitely think the US would greatly benefit from it. The Tower of London was really exciting to visit as we got to see the Crown Jewels, Traitor’s Gate and old torturing devices, and the main fortress with various old pieces of armor inside!
To finish up day 2, we went on the iconic London Eye and got to see all of London, which was absolutely breathtaking. We also were able to explore Borough Market, where I was surprisingly able to find a ton of unique vegetarian options from F-ish (vegetarian alternative to smoked salmon), goat’s milk ice-cream, and of my favorite: gnocchi!